At the kind invitation of the Government and people of the Republic of the Philippines, the 45th Meeting of the SEAFDEC Council was held in the magnificent City of Cebu, Philippines from 1 to 5 April 2013 and hosted by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Philippine Department of Agriculture. The Inaugural Ceremony of the Meeting was presided over by the Honorable Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness, Marketing and Fisheries, Mr. Salvador S. Salacup of the Philippine Department of Agriculture. During the Meeting, the SEAFDEC Council Director for the Philippines, Atty. Asis G. Perez, was unanimously elected as the new Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2013-2014, succeeding Mr. Khin Ko Lay, SEAFDEC Council Director for Myanmar who served as the Chairperson of the SEAFDEC Council for the Year 2012-2013.
While taking note of the excellent progress and achievements of SEAFDEC in 2012, the Council approved the proposed program of activities to be undertaken by SEAFDEC in 2013, which were formulated taking into account the priorities of the Member Countries. The Council also discussed a range of issues that are of utmost importance for the sustainable development fisheries in the region and requiring serious attention and cooperation, particularly the listing of commercially-exploited aquatic species into the CITES Appendices, development of “Regional Fishing Vessels Record” as a tool to combat the IUU fishing, development of ASEAN Catch Certification, development of regional cooperation on sustainable tuna fisheries management in the Southeast Asian waters, and the initiative to ensure sustainable live reef food fish trade (LRFFT) in the Southeast Asian region. Regarding the latter issue and considering that LRFFT is crucial for the sustainability of the fisheries sector of concerned countries in the Southeast Asian region, the Council endorsed the “Resolution on Sustainable Live Reef Food Fish Trade in the Southeast Asian Region and CTI-CFF Member Countries” to boost its implementation in Southeast Asia, and authorized SEAFDEC to serve as Interim Secretariat for the LRFFT Regional Forum.
The Council also noted the progress made by SEAFDEC towards the establishment of the Inland Fishery Resources Development and Management Department (IFRDMD) in Palembang, Indonesia as new SEAFDEC Department for inland fisheries development, as well as the proposed plan of operation and program of work of the Department. The new Department would undertake regional activities focusing on inland fisheries taking into consideration similar ongoing activities of other organizations, particularly the Mekong River Commission, and in order to avoid duplication of efforts, collaborative arrangements will be forged between IFRDMD and these organizations in accordance with the Agreement Establishing SEAFDEC. Furthermore, it is the overall goal of SEAFDEC to ensure that through the inland fisheries programs and activities of the new Department, the contribution of inland fisheries to food security and livelihoods of peoples in the region could be enhanced.